Perhaps the most shocking thing about GE13 was the humiliation the leaders in power had to face when the final results were known, observes M N D’ Cruz.
The general election on 5 May was a memorable one for the heat it generated, the rhetoric that went into it, the wild accusations and counter-accusations, the pornography videos of the so-called sexual exploits of an opposition leader or someone who resembled him, the lies uttered to discredit opposition leaders, the Brutus’s who stabbed their erstwhile friends in the back, the large number of party hoppers, the turncoats, and above all the large amount of public money wasted on handouts to buy votes.
Perhaps, the most shocking thing was the humiliation the leaders in power had to face when final results were known.
Some political analysts call it a political tsunami. An early warning of the tsunami was there in the 2008 general election, but the BN government ignored it and found a scapegoat in Abdullah Badawi. Never mind that the 2004 general election under him produced the best results for the BN in a long time.
Was it a Chinese tsunami? No.
Was it a Malay Arab Spring? No.
Was it a Indian civil disobedience? No.
Was it a People’s Power tsunami? Yes, albeit, by the silent majority.
The majority of voters who could think and decide for themselves without being brainwashed by political propaganda, influenced by racial, religious or cultural considerations, voted according to the dictates of their conscience, which no money could buy.
Some harsh critics have labelled it as a slap in the face for BN leaders for their arrogance when they kept on saying repeatedly:
We have been running the country for more than 55 years. So we have the experience, whereas the opposition are a bunch of inexperienced people.
If they were to run the country, it would fall into ruins, because foreign investors would not trust them. So there would be no more foreign investment, no more job opportunities, no more economic growth, therefore massive unemployment; in short, the people would suffer.
There is no need for any Reformasi because we are carrying out Transformasi, which is a better option.
The opposition is being funded by some foreign sources who are jealous of our economic success, political stability and continuous prosperity.
Under the BN government, the different races are treated well and so there is racial harmony. If Pakatan were to come to power, it would be controlled by Pas, which will enforce Islamic laws, even on non-Muslims.
It is also a Slap in the Face for:
Corruption, nepotism, cronyism, favouritism, discrimination (when it comes to recruiting employees for the government service, the army, navy, air force, police etc), bribery, oppressive laws, police brutality, illegal detention under the ISA. Prosecution amounting to persecution, rewarding political supporters by awarding them government contracts, without going through the public tendering process, allowing toll-rates to be increased arbitrarily as a favour to the politically connected concessionaries, and such other unpopular actions.
Citizen Joe was also disgusted when he saw defeated candidates of the 2008 election being brought into the Cabinet through the backdoor via the Senate.
Many a person in the street could hear the muffled moan of a Mongolian woman, mourning the death of justice in a country where she lost her life due to political foul play. What’s more, they made two policemen as scapegoats, whom the Court found guilty of murder and sentenced to death, while the real culprits appeared to go scot-free (because of political connections?).
Many ordinary citizens could also hear the spirit of PI Bala, ruffling the dead leaves over his grave to find out whether he really died of heart attack or was it a foul play? They could also hear the cries and curses of the family and friends of Kugan and other detainees before him, who died in police custody. These things muddled their minds as they walked towards the ballot box.
But losing Selangor again in this election, with fewer seats won, was perhaps the hardest blow for the BN, more so because none other than the Prime Minister himself was spearheading the assault. Now, the much touted Langsat 2 water project is in jeopardy. While Selangor can manage its water needs, the Federal government may have to look elsewhere to quench the thirst of the inhabitants of Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya.
Riding roughshod over the religious freedom of the minorities is a serious infringement of the religious freedom guaranteed by our constitution to all citizens. Even then, the indigenous Christians of Sabah and Sarawak were having their Bibles in Bahasa Malaysia confiscated because they contained the word ‘Allah’ for God. The same Bible they have been using for decades, long before Malaysia was formed. Their simmering discontent found expression in the ballot box. Today the so-called fixed deposit BN had in these two states is bringing diminished dividends. In the next election, there may be no dividend at all.
BN-controlled radio and television have been blaring political propaganda, even in between the news. BN-controlled newspapers like Utusan Melayu, The Star and The New Straits Times carried their political propaganda to disgusting limits.
The much used (and maybe abused) term `1Malaysia’ makes one wonder what it is all about – 1Malaysia Kelinik; 1Malaysia Kedai; 1Malaysia Kedai Kopi, selling 1Malaysia breakfast, 1Malaysia lunch etc; 1Malaysia arcades selling 1Malaysia products; and so on. Even the daily bulletins of Radio Malaysia have turned into 1Malaysia news now.
Didn’t we have `1Malaysia` when our founding fathers negotiateed with the British for Independence. Didn’t we celebrate our Independence as `1Malaysia`, and didn’t we become `1Malaysians` when we formed Malaysia? Didn’t we confront Sukarno’s Konfrontasi as `1Malaysians`? Didn’t we put the May 13 tragey in the back-burners of history in the true spirit of `1Malaysians`? Didn’t we send our children to school to study and play as `1Malaysians`? Didn’t our people in the bustling cities and remote villages live in close neighbourliness? Didn’t we have a cup of coffee in our warungs as `1Malaysians`? Didn’t we visit our neighbours and friends during Hari Raya, Chinese New Year, Deepavali and Christmas to wish them seasons greetings and take part in their hospitality as `1Malaysians’?
Today, aren’t we thinking, behaving and accepting Malaysians of all races, truly and sincerely as `1Malaysians’? So, is 1Malaysia nothing more than an empty political slogan or is there something in it relevant to our present day realities?
“BN had held on to power despite losing the popular vote this Sunday, when it took home 47.4 percent of votes while PR took 50.9 percent, the first time since the 1969 elections when the former contesteed as Alliance Party.
Analysts and opposition leaders have attributed BN’s poor showing to a swing among the urban electorate, instead of just a shift in support among the Chinese community as some BN leaders have said” (Malaysia Insider/Herald, 10 May 2013).
Bersih was the thunderbolt that woke up the politically indifferent youths from their slumber and their active participation certainly influenced the outcome of the 13th general election. The high-handed way in which the authorities, including the police, responded with teargas, baton charges, water cannons and indiscriminate detention of those who held a peaceful march opened the eyes and ears of the youth and of many ordinary citizens who showed their disgust for the BN through the ballot box.
BN again failed to get a two-thirds majority and had to depend heavily on support from Sabah and Sarawak, in return for which they are given a disproportionately high representation in the Cabinet.
Things are not rosy for the opposition either. Pakatan proved itself to be a loose coalition of parties with divergent political ideologies. Pas has loudly declared its determination to make Malaysia an Islamic country, DAP is cherishing its dream of creating a truly `Malaysian Malaysia’ while for PKR, its, de facto leader’s main ambition appears to be to take over Putrajaya – but he seems to forget the road to Putrajaya is a long, steep and winding road, full of potholes and rough stones.
The open squabbles over the allocation of seats, who should be the next Mentri Besar, and who should be the next President of PKR are all worrying trends. Moreover, the party is not a coalition like the BN, and didn’t have a common logo for the general election and each party had to use its own logo.
It looks like Pakatan is having a triangular tug-of-war, with Pas pulling the country towards Kelantan to achieve its avowed determination of creating an Islamic Malaysia; DAP pulling it towards Penang, its bastion, to create a truly Malaysian Malaysia; PKR, led by its de facto leader, Anwar Ibrahim pulling towards Putrajaya to achieve his long-cherished ambition of becoming the Prime Minister of Malaysia.
Now that the dust has settled, and the BN is again in the driver’s seat, it is pointless to hold black-shirt protest rallies, thus causing a lot of inconveniences to the public. Moreover, the DAP and Pas appear to have disassociated themselves from these rallies and have, on the whole, accepted the result of the general election, while maintaining their right to seek legal recourse to challenge the result of some seats.
Our beloved King has also, in his birthday message advised his subjects to accept the election results and to return the country to normalcy. So the best option for Anwar is take it easy and try his luck at the next general election. Maybe with the electoral reforms promised by Najib, Anwar may have better luck.
After 30 years of service with the Ministry of Education, M N D’Cruz has written a host of books on Malaysian labour law. He was a member of the Panel of the Industrial Court Malaysia from 1973 to 1989.